Author Topic: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?  (Read 405 times)

Cabbages and kings

How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« on: January 07, 2021, 06:49:43 PM »
Hi everyone.

For me writer's block comes in different forms:

1. I can't come up with whole new story ideas.

2. I don't know what should happen next in a current story.

3. I have several radically different directions I could take a current story and am stuck on which direction I should pick.

4. I know what I want to have in the scene but it's too tough to write, I just don't have the skills or the words.

5. I read something good and I just shut down, thinking I'll never be that good.


How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?

« Last Edit: January 07, 2021, 07:27:20 PM by Cabbages and kings »
 

Jeff Tanyard

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2021, 07:13:37 PM »
Outlining helps for me.  It's not a cure-all, but it helps.
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Simon Haynes

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2021, 07:38:40 PM »
I always have nine or ten novels in the planning/idea stages.

My 'writer's block' is more a case of having something else I want to do instead. Right now it's gardening, last week it was redoing all my web pages, before that it was two weeks on Elite Dangerous, and most of last year it was sim racing online.

Also, I take December off, plus the two weeks immediately after. Too many family events/gift shopping trips/etc to deal with, and I hate having anything at all on my schedule. (I don't mean I don't enjoy catching up with family and friends. I just mean I can't sit down and write if I have other things to plan for.)

Before I was a full-time author, I dealt with all those distractions and just wrote. However, there's a reason my earlier novels took 8 to 12 months each to write, whereas now they're written and edited in 3-6 weeks.
 
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Cabbages and kings

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2021, 07:48:51 PM »
I always have nine or ten novels in the planning/idea stages.

My 'writer's block' is more a case of having something else I want to do instead. Right now it's gardening, last week it was redoing all my web pages, before that it was two weeks on Elite Dangerous, and most of last year it was sim racing online.

Also, I take December off, plus the two weeks immediately after. Too many family events/gift shopping trips/etc to deal with, and I hate having anything at all on my schedule. (I don't mean I don't enjoy catching up with family and friends. I just mean I can't sit down and write if I have other things to plan for.)

Before I was a full-time author, I dealt with all those distractions and just wrote. However, there's a reason my earlier novels took 8 to 12 months each to write, whereas now they're written and edited in 3-6 weeks.


Wow! How many novels do you have out and how many do you put out on average per year?
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2021, 08:16:30 PM »
Medications can be the cause of writers block.

So many meds mess with the way your brain works, and a lot of these are ones you wouldn't expect to.

So if you get writers block after you start taking new meds, or after having been taking them for a while, you should discuss this with your GP.

For mild blockage of what to do next, I start reading from the beginning. Once I get to where I've left off, I'm back in the flow enough to keep going again.
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Simon Haynes

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2021, 08:23:47 PM »


Wow! How many novels do you have out and how many do you put out on average per year?



30 out.  I wrote 10 in 2018, 4 in 2019 and 2 last year - but they all took a month each, more or less.  Last year I just didn't write much, then ended with a flurry.

I'm almost ready to get back into it - I have two different series with two books in each, and I really want to write the third to finish each of them off.

But gardening first ;-)

 
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JackT

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2021, 10:17:18 PM »
A nice hot bath. Never fails. :)

(For working out what's going to happen next)
 
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cecilia_writer

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2021, 12:01:41 AM »
Since I retired from my day job in October I''ve realised I can't work on the same thing all the time so I've tried to have more than one project in hand. I can already see this might not always be feasible, so in my 2021 writing plan I've added a target of writing a short story every month too.
All this only works for as long as you have enough ideas, but I found I could follow writing prompts quite easily during a screenwriting activity I took part in recently, so if all else fails I would use that kind of thing to generate ideas.
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LilyBLily

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2021, 01:35:50 AM »
As a pantster I face this often, but I'd hardly call it writers block. Not a big enough problem. I know the difference.

I think it's a mistake to imagine that writing simply flows and requires no cogitation beforehand or during, or that we never should encounter moments when we're not sure what comes next or think we can't pull it off. Nobody really is this superhuman.

Rereading what I've already written usually inspires an angle or scene I hadn't thought out previously, a way of opening out something I might have passed over lightly before.

Making the effort to open the file and sit down to the job also helps. Grin

If you're staring at a blank page and feeling not good enough, shake it off. The old advice is true: you can't edit a blank page. Editing can turn anything better and the process can inspire better ideas for the same scenes.

Sometimes considering classic plotting advice such as, "Have them go dancing" or "Have a surprise come to the door" or "Blow something up" can jump start the next part of a plot. It depends on what kind of story you're writing. For a romance, going dancing might be a big deal. For a thriller, a building blowing up might send your lead characters in new and exciting directions. (Don't blow up the dance hall or have the FBI guy go dancing. Maintain tone.)

Most of all, don't worry about it. Worry does not help. Approach the current dilemma calmly. You are the puppet master of your story. You can make anything happen.
 
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Maggie Ann

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2021, 02:56:22 AM »
Medications can be the cause of writers block.

So many meds mess with the way your brain works, and a lot of these are ones you wouldn't expect to.

So if you get writers block after you start taking new meds, or after having been taking them for a while, you should discuss this with your GP.

For mild blockage of what to do next, I start reading from the beginning. Once I get to where I've left off, I'm back in the flow enough to keep going again.

What kind of meds?
           
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2021, 03:00:09 AM »
What kind of meds?

Metformin did me in for a long time. Doc kept wanting me to increase the dosage, and when I tried, my productivity died. Lessen the dose, and my brain fired up again. Eventually I asked for an alternative, and the problem went away completely.

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Hopscotch

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2021, 03:55:09 AM »
Medications can be the cause of writers block....For mild blockage of what to do next, I start reading from the beginning. Once I get to where I've left off, I'm back in the flow enough to keep going again.

Your list also suggests malaise rather than writer's block, which means Tim's second bit of advice could be especially helpful.  William Faulkner used to say that, when he ran out of ideas and couldn't write, he'd go to the library and get some.  That's good advice, too, from a Nobel Prize winner.
 
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alhawke

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2021, 05:18:23 AM »
I'm editing and editing and editing an old project. That's giving me a break from writing a completely new blank slate novel. I do get writers block and one of my biggest sources of unhappiness is not working on a writing project. The worst torture is starting multiple projects that keep landing in dead ends. So, for me, anyway, working on new projects and changing the work helps.


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Matthew

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2021, 06:54:01 AM »
1. I can't come up with whole new story ideas.
Time to feed the creative well, as they say. Go out and enjoy life. Read a new book, watch a new movie.

2. I don't know what should happen next in a current story.
For me, this is usually indicative that the writing went awry a little while back. I would reread the current and previous chapters and see if anything problematic becomes more visible.

3. I have several radically different directions I could take a current story and am stuck on which direction I should pick.
I usually just pick one of the two (flip a coin) and start writing. If it doesn't feel right, try the other way. If you're ambivalent, just keep it the way it is and get feedback from a beta reader.

4. I know what I want to have in the scene but it's too tough to write, I just don't have the skills or the words.
Write it anyway. The books you see on shelves are not first drafts.

5. I read something good and I just shut down, thinking I'll never be that good.
I can't exactly help with a defeatist attitude. The more you work on your craft, the better you will become. It may not be today, but some day.
 
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Vijaya

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2021, 08:05:57 AM »
I tend to have multiple projects so if I'm stuck on one, I go to another. But for the first time since I started writing nearly 20 years ago, I've taken a long break from it due to an accident and once I started recovering, the focus shifted to household chores and Christmas music and spending time with the kids who came home for the holidays. I am a little nervous about how long it's going to take to get back into the groove so I appreciate all your thoughts. I've only scribbled a few ideas in these past few months so it's time to dive in and explore them.


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Maggie Ann

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2021, 08:26:24 AM »
What kind of meds?

Metformin did me in for a long time. Doc kept wanting me to increase the dosage, and when I tried, my productivity died. Lessen the dose, and my brain fired up again. Eventually I asked for an alternative, and the problem went away completely.

Metformin is one of the many medications I'm on. However I've been on it for three years with a two month break when I was in the hospital. Apparently, they would rather stick you with a needle when your blood sugar goes up rather than control it. However I am taking the lowest dosage already. I'll have to talk to my doctor about an alternative. Thanks for the suggestion.
           
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2021, 12:39:42 PM »
I'll have to talk to my doctor about an alternative. Thanks for the suggestion.

There are several. I'm now taking a combination of an older med, and a newer 1.

Metformin has some serious side effects no-one mentions, and is the drug of choice for doctors. You have to make them rethink by refusing to take it anymore, and if they won't, change doctor.
Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit, with a touch of the Supernatural. Also Spiritual and Games.



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Vijaya

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2021, 01:05:35 AM »
Speaking of meds, I remember taking a low-dose anti-seizure drug, topimarate, for preventing chronic migraine and one of the side effects was losing words. I'd be thinking of something and wouldn't have the word for it. After a month, the dose had to be increased a little bit, then again after another month, and I was unable to write. The drug was tamping down *everything* in my brain so I quit taking it. I was grateful to get my words back.


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Maggie Ann

Re: How do you deal with different forms of writer's block?
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2021, 01:36:21 AM »
Speaking of meds, I remember taking a low-dose anti-seizure drug, topimarate, for preventing chronic migraine and one of the side effects was losing words. I'd be thinking of something and wouldn't have the word for it. After a month, the dose had to be increased a little bit, then again after another month, and I was unable to write. The drug was tamping down *everything* in my brain so I quit taking it. I was grateful to get my words back.

I take Keppra for seizures at the minimum dosage. I don't know if it is affecting me or not but they stopped giving it to me when I was in CICU and I was having seizures. If I have seizures, I can't drive so I have to take Keppra.

I'm going to have to have a serious talk with both my doctor and my neuro.